UniSIM Convocation 2012
I’m not really all that excited about this kinda stuff, but for the benefit of keeping my friends updated, I’ve graduated from SIM University on October 3rd, 2012 with a BSc in Management and Security Studies.
We could purchase up to 2 guest tickets per graduate, with an option to request for more on a case-by-case basis. So I asked for a third one in anticipation for Dad, Mum and Aunt Siew Leng to come together for the Convocation. Dad has been slowly recovering (thanks to God, and all my Christian friends for their continued prayers), but still felt not in the best shape to attend (due to the noise and the waiting around for such ceremonies; which I also loath, having been through many, many of them) . So Mum went instead and asked Sis and Benjamin (my Brother-In-Law) to accompany her. Aunt Siew Leng would take care of Dad at home.
The ceremony, thankfully, didn’t last too long. I had time to pick up the graduation gift prior to the ceremony – the usual teddy bear in graduation regalia, so we took a shot outside the Grand Hall after it ended with Bear and Degree in hand.
(Moments like these, I wished deep in my soul that she was still around, and was here with me. But some things don’t always happen as you’d like them. I only wish that God would continue watching over her.)
Mum wanted to take a few more pics, so we made our way down to the reception for a quick snack or two before continuing on in front of the Library (which regrettably I’ve only been in *once* since I started classes there in 2008; and then it was also only for a look-see).
We were supposed to go back home to get some pictures taken with Dad, but by the time we were done he was still out for his consultation with another trusted physician who he has been going for treatment for. The session would be postponed for the coming Sunday.
Came Sunday, Sis and I both dressed up in our respective regalia for the family photo. Hers was from her Masters degree in Electrical Engineering (NUS) from waaaay-back. They were then given an option to buy the regalia at a slight top-up over the rental price; which, turned out, had a use after all.
My family’s (me included) not so used to taking photographs and posing with smiles so we had a hard time looking right for the camera. After repeated tries (thank goodness for digital cameras!) of snapping photos and checking the shots, I noticed that everyone was smiling okay (even laughing) before the picture’s taken, but whenever the shutter goes off, the smiles clams shut in nervousness.
So sis and I hit upon an idea and did this:
I guess this final shot held additional meaning for all of us. Mum and Dad never finished school. This was despite both of them making it to Nanyang Girls High and The Chinese High School respectively in their youths, and had a great love for learning.
Mum was the eldest of 10 children my maternal grandparents had, and they not being well-off, she had to give up schooling so that her younger siblings could have a chance. Being the eldest, she also had to wake up early each day to help out with the meals and chores. This endless toil would continue even into her married life, as she took pains to raise my sis and I. Taking on back-breaking factory jobs while making sure she’s also home in time to prepare meals and do the chores.
Dad’s life wasn’t much better. My paternal grandfather was a Singaporean, but Dad was conceived over in China. At a young age he came to Singapore with my great-grandmother, but ended up living with an uncle of mine instead. Again when money was scarce, Dad had to give up his studies. But he wouldn’t give up; for a time he worked odd-jobs to support himself, slept in the school attic to keep at it. Later on in life he would take up various skills including electrical studies, carpentry, and his passion: Traditional Chinese Medicine, which he earned the licence to practise after years of hard work.
As we grew up, Dad and Mum were glaring examples of the kind of people our fast-moving, result-oriented system often loses through the gap. Whether be it a love for learning and self improvement, academic abilities, hard work, aspirations and determination – my parents had it all. But they never got a chance. Whatever our country’s notion of “meritocracy”, whatever our promises that those who dares to try – WILL succeed, it just isn’t always true. The poor almost always gets the short end of the stick, if only because they wouldn’t get the same kind of opportunity that will be offered in abundance to the rich. There will be the lucky few who make it, but it’ll only be because of the inevitable randomness of chance.
But that’s a story for another day.
Thing is, my Sister and I, our graduations, mean a whole lot more to our parents than what it could mean to many families who are financially much better off. It was a dream they could never fulfil for themselves, but one for which they would toil hard all their lives so that their children could obtain them. A dream they harboured since their youths. And a dream that is now fulfilled in full.
This graduation is for you:
Thank you, Mum and Dad. =)